When I moved to Denver a little over six years ago, I thought, “Hey, what a great market it must be for country and Americana music!” Turns out, not so much. Sure, the big national touring bands stop through here, the venerable (and cavernous) Grizzly Rose nightclub hosts the mid-majors weekly, and Red Rocks is the best outdoor venue on the planet, but the local scene has left much to be desired. The talent’s there, but many smaller venues have been less than receptive to locally bred country and western music. But there’s an effort to change that. Curtis Wallach, who co-owns and books the hi-dive (a venue that hosts all genres but has a particular soft spot for C&W and Americana), has established Queen City Country and Western. It’s more than a label, more than an event, so we’ll let him explain:
Curtis Wallach: Queen City is something of a cooperative label, or more precisely cooperative artist representation. The six bands that it represents (off the bat, with an eye to adding more in the near future) are Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels, Extra Gold, Grayson County Burn Ban, Hang Rounders, High Plains Honky, and Jennifer Jane Niceley. We’re six bands (full disclosure, I’m the guitarist in Hang Rounders) that play together often, and have each separately worked to carve out a retro country niche in the Denver scene. The goal of the collective is to come together to raise awareness for our scene & bands, and hopefully in doing so build all of our fanbases. Also, it should serve as an easy sort of hub for country fans in Denver to get show, tour, and album info for the bands represented and beyond. For folks outside of Denver that are into not-pop-country, I hope to make QCC&W and our various bands the first thing in their heads when they think about the Mile High City’s country scene.
Americana Highways: Other than the obvious (the serious dearth of good, local country music in Denver), what was the impetus for this collective?
CW: The main impetus was pondering the drawbacks of classic very small record labels (mainly, funding without representation) and how to better serve these local bands I love in the modern music landscape. That, coupled with the knowledge that folks playing old style country music are generally kind of retro thinking when it comes to the music industry/promotion/life, made me think this would be a helpful and worthwhile endeavor for all of us.
AH: What role did the participating bands play in planning and organizing the event? [There is a kickoff party at Lost Lake Lounge in Denver on March 1]
CW: The bands are all equally invested in the project. I simply did the work to launch it. Extra Gold, Hang Rounders, and Grayson County Burn Ban (the 3 bands playing that specific show) all did and are doing their part to plan, organize, and promote. And we’re all working together from under the QCC&W umbrella to promote that show and others.
AH: How often are you hoping to hold shows?
CW: Most of these bands play at least once a month around town. And bonus, they play with a lot of fantastic local and national acts that aren’t involved with QCC&W, so just by following these 6 bands, you’ll have the opportunity to get acquainted with loads of great talent outside the QCC&W family. We’ll be doing a big showcase with all six current QCC&W bands at Levitt Pavilion this summer on Father’s Day (6/16) from 2pm-8pm.
AH: Are there other local bands and musicians that have expressed interest in participating in future events?
CW: QCC&W aims to be very inclusive, with hopes to add more bands to the roster in the near future. And yes, events are happening all the time! By following QCC&W, Denverites should have two-stepping opportunities on any given weekend.
AH: Finally, can we hope to see any collaborations between the bands, on-stage or otherwise?
CW: Yes. That’s what this whole thing is about!
If you’d like to learn more about Queen City Country and Western, here are three ways to do so. And if your city has something similar to promote local Americana and country music, let your friends here at Americana Highways know all about it!
http://countrywestern.co – The website, which displays each band’s info, web links, booking contact, and upcoming shows.
http://qccandw.bandcamp.com – 18-song sampler available on digital or cassette. Buying this is the easiest way to monetarily support this endeavor.
https://www.instagram.com/qccandw – The sole social media aspect of the project. Check for updates not just for QCC&W goings-on, but other cool country stuff happening around Denver.